Thursday, November 6, 2008

Will Obama Administration Step into Autism/Vaccine Controversy?

There is no question that among the special needs community, the presidential campaign has been divisive -- with parents and other advocates passionately supporting Sen. Obama (because of his positions on autism and disabilities) or Sen. McCain (particularly after his nomination of Gov. Palin).

But if you think that was controversial, just wait for the vaccine debate to heat up. You may know that many parents are convinced that vaccines are a contributing cause to autism (and you may be one of those parents). On the other side of the debate are scientists and organizations (including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) that say there is no medical evidence of that link.

Early in the campaign, McCain mentioned a possible link, until his advisors informed him there was no solid evidence, and he backtracked. Obama was asked directly about the connection at a campaign rally, and he didn't commit either way, but said more research is probably needed.

The reason this could become an issue very soon is because there are rumors that Obama may nominate environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr. to be head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Kennedy, if you don't know, is the nephew of Sen. Ted Kennedy has actively campaigned against the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the pharmaceutical industry because he is convinced they are covering up a link between vaccines and autism. Some think if Obama appoints him, it will be an implied endorsement of that controversial position. According to the Huffington Post, Kennedy said he has not been asked but would say yes if offered the position.

UPDATE: More on this issue from Daily Kos -- "Divided We Fall."
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